• synonyms


  1. any of several plants regarded as turning with the movement of the sun.
  2. heliotrope(def 2).
  3. a European plant, Chrozophora tinctoria, of the spurge family, yielding a purple dye.
  4. the purple dye prepared from this plant; litmus.
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Origin of turnsole

1325–75; Middle English turnesole < Middle French tournesol the dye < Italian tornasole the plant, literally, (it) turns (toward the) sun, on the model of Greek hēliotrópion heliotrope
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for turnsole

Historical Examples

  • A violet tint is given by the tinctures of turnsole and cochineal.

    A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines

    Andrew Ure

  • The lower part from a was filled with water tinged blue, or rather purple, with the juice of turnsole, or archil.

  • He styles the colouring substance itself cutbear, persio, or turnsole; and distributes the lichens as follows:—1st.

British Dictionary definitions for turnsole


  1. any of various plants having flowers that are said to turn towards the sun
  2. a euphorbiaceous plant, Croton tinctoria, of the Mediterranean region that yields a purple dye
  3. the dye extracted from this plant
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French tournesole, from Old Italian tornasole, from tornare to turn + sole sun, from Latin sōl sun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012